Landlord Claiming Steam Clean Carpet ($100) When He Is Renovating The Place. Worth Taking to VCAT?

Hi, I have vacate a rental unit, where I spent 7.5 years.

Landlord is renovating the kitchen and bathroom. I spoke with him and he said I had to clean the stove/oven but everything else would be okay.

I collect my stuff, vacuumed the place.

Now Landlord wants to claim steam cleaning the carpet. He said the place has a strong odour of cats. Now landlord has been to my place many times before and never said a word. Obviously he was always against the cats, but new legislation in Victoria said I could keep pets. Cats do not smell (even if you don't like cats!).

The cats have never damage the carpet, never peed or poop on it, and always used the litter box in the laundry area.

I reminded them the carpet is over 7.5 years (it was already in place when I moved).

I said I will not pay the $100 and we can take to the court. REA said I signed the contract. I replied saying that it is not enforceable under Tenants Union of Victoria.

Any tips of what to do next?

I am under the impression he wants to renovate and use my money to clean the place. Renovators will be going through the carpet.

TIA

*Before any one say, if you rent you do what landlord say or buy your place. Yes, I bought my place so I don't pay exorbitant rent.

closed Comments

  • +34 votes

    Hmm… a quick google search found a few things for you on the legality of contracts asking for steam cleaning.

    1) Consumer Affairs - Victoria - Fact sheet in easy English on ending a tenancy.
    https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au/library/publications/resourc...

    Before you move out.
    You must
    • pay all bills and rent you owe.
    • clean the home.
    • take all your things with you.
    get the carpets steam-cleaned if your lease says this.
    • give all the keys to the landlord or agent.
    • give your new address to your landlord or agent.

    2) Consumer Affairs - Victoria - Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/ConsumerAffairsVictoria/posts/do-i-...

    Do I have to steam clean the carpets when leaving my rental property?
    If you have looked after the carpet and left it clean, your landlord does not have an automatic right under Victoria’s residential tenancy laws to demand professional cleaning.
    However, **a tenant must abide by the conditions of the lease that they signed – it is a legal contract. If it requires the tenant to have the carpet professionally cleaned at the end of the lease, the tenant must do so or risk legal action for breach of contract. **

    3) Not applicable in your case since you are in Victoria; but in NSW, it is actually in the Residential Act clearly
    (3) However, a residential tenancy agreement may include a term that requires the carpet to be professionally cleaned or requires the tenant to pay the cost of such cleaning, at the end of the tenancy, if the landlord permits the tenant to keep an animal on the residential premises.

    4) There was a case in VCAT where the tenant won - http://www8.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VCAT...
    The key difference from your case is that they had rented for only 6 months and did not have pets. Your landlord could argue that you do not return it in a reasonably clean state because he could still smell the cats.

    Upto you if you want to take it to VCAT or not.

    • +9 votes

      This is actually not correct. They have updated their advice on other portions based on the VCAT decision. Just because you put something in a lease agreement doesn't mean it's legal and enforceable, I think people have this misunderstanding that you can just chuck anything you want in there.

      The new guidance states " “This, however, can be seen as an invalid term, as it is asking for something beyond ‘reasonably clean’. In many cases, steam-cleaning may not be necessary.”

      The place just needs to be left reasonably clean. I would call their bluff. They will have to pay the agent's fees for VCAT which can't be claimed back from you and it will take 8 to 12 weeks just to get a hearing date.

      • +24 votes

        How are the carpets reasonably clean if a non-cat person walks in and smells catbutt all over the place?

        • -8 votes

          Because they are 7 years old. Far past their replacement life. VCAT would tell the owner/landlord to pound dirt due to depreciation… Remember the landlord will also have been deducting all this stuff for taxes.

          https://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-07/Usef...

          Start reading on page 5.

          1) "The burden of proof rests with whoever brings an application to VCAT. This means that an applicant must produce sufficient evidence during the course of a hearing to support what they say, and to prove their case."

          2) "VCAT’s task is to consider the evidence that the parties bring to the hearing and decide if an applicant has proven, through evidence, their claim. VCAT considers whether the loss is reasonable, having regard to the general conduct of the parties, the age and condition of any items damaged, whether items have been repaired or replaced, and whether attempts have been made to ensure the loss is the least that is reasonably possible."

          3) The replacement age of residential carpet is reasonably 8 years. So you are looking at a nearly 90% deduction should you even begin to approach a claim in VCAT.

          • +3 votes

            @meowsers: The landlord wants his carpet cleaned to eliminate the catbutt smell, he or she is not asking for the carpets to be replaced.

            How does anything you've linked apply to this now disabled users scenario?

            1) owner and real estate agent provide statements evidencing catbutt smell

            2) owner provides receipt of $100, or a quote from handyman etc.

            3) owner is not replacing carpets. It's a cleaning bill, not too dissimilar to a cleaning bill for crayon on walls, or unclean ovens, kitchens, toilets.

            • -2 votes

              @ankor: Just sayin if my tenants left the place clean and only issue was carpet smelt of cats.. 0 chance id do anything about it unless it was (badly) visibly damaged. I say call their bluff, sounds very unreasonable.
              I guess there are always crazy ppl around.. but def not worth doing anything further on landlords behalf imo

              •  

                @wozz: Not really crazy people, I've been looking at buying a home and going to open homes. About half of the ones that have been rented, you can tell as soon as you enter the front door that they have had pets there. It immediately turns me off and there would have to be big reasons to overcome that initial reaction.

  • +35 votes

    I am not sure if I am reading this right. So, you signed the contract asking you to steam clean the carpet and don't want to pay for the steam cleaning?

      • +26 votes

        yes but if you dirtied the carpet- or especially if you have cats/pets then yes you should steam clean. also the next person moving in would not like to sit or walk over your cat's shit…

  • +58 votes

    Pay the $100 or steam clean it yourself and move on with your life.

    Sure you could fight it and win by claiming fair wear and tear. But is it worth it.

    I would recommend you get him to sign something to say there is nothing else that needs to be fixed/cleaned

    • -17 votes

      The same could be said for the landlord though. This is why landlords try and get away with whatever they can on end of lease. They have been earning uninterrupted income for 7 years, they should be thankful and pay for the carpet if they want to steam clean it.

      • -1 vote

        Not sure why this is downvoted.

      •  

        What la la land do you live in?
        So if someone lied when signing up to an insurance policy, it would be reasonable to say they have been receiving uninterrupted income for x years with no claim and They should be thankful and pay out the claim? Lol
        Omg people these days…

        • -3 votes

          You're talking about 2-3 days rent max… The biggest cost for a landlord is changing tenants, even a few weeks and you start getting into the thousands. It is super petty for a landlord that has had such continuity to go after a hundred bucks.

          • +5 votes

            @Lachy2437: It's super petty to want to go to court over such a trivial amount for cleaning that should've been done by the tenant several times over the period they were there anyway.

            •  

              @apsilon: Squibbling over $100 in a contract that has been worth in the range of $150-200k is definitely petty by the landlord especially when it is disputable. You are talking a period of 7.5 years… That is a reasonable life for a carpet. Taking into consideration previous relations is also common business practice, if it was a 6 month lease and they signed that clause I would think it is a different proposition.

              •  

                @Lachy2437: A landlord just wants to remove the catbutt smell that's permeated the carpet after a cat has resided there for a year.

                It's at the cost of the tenant because the tenant was responsible for the catbutt smell in the first place.

                Landlords might have more assets and be better of than you, but it doesn't mean that they should just give you free money.

                How is any of this even disputable????????

          • +5 votes

            @Lachy2437: Typical poppy syndrome thinking that landlords must be more well off than tenants so they should not be "petty"
            If the landlord wants to forego any rights as a gesture of thanks, that's up to them do decide. Selfish tenants like you just expect things to be given out for free. How about you ask them to give you a thank you hamper next time you move out?oh sorry, you probably won't ask. You will probably demand it as if it's your God given right

            • -3 votes

              @djc926: I'm sure the numbers would suggest the landlord is more likely to be more well off than the tenant but that is irrelevant really.As for the pettiness, it might be the landlord's right (and that's debatable) but saying it isn't a petty way to deal with a contract that was worth over a thousand times that is absolute codswallop.

              Selfish tenants like me eh? You're a laugh, sitting on your high horse assuming from a comment about reasonableness that I must be some kind of bottom feeder like you. My real estate has actually taken to leaving chocolates on inspections because they're so impressed with the state we keep our rental in, not that it is actually the point, you just have a prejudice against renters by the sound. As for vacating I go above and beyond each time partly because I don't want to waste my time dealing with the kind of tediousness this post is about.

              •  

                @Lachy2437: I bet you pay a premium for that service

              • +1 vote

                @Lachy2437: Long winded posts but essentially full of non sense. I think the majority has spoken that you're full of non sense. Give it up already lol

                •  

                  @djc926: The group on ozbargain is very conservative, that is true on all these posts. It doesn't make my points invalid.

                  •  

                    @Lachy2437: Next time you enter into any contract, see what the outcome is when you not fulfil your obligations (eg. Short pay by a hundred bucks or even 50 bucks). I have a great idea. How about you leave your settlement fund short next time you purchase your own property. It's a contract worth hundreds of thousands but you will find that your settlement won't go ahead if you are short by even a dollar since they are so 'petty'.
                    Omg.. No wonder people these days are self entitled. Even not fulfilling their contractual obligation is taken for granted now.

  • +15 votes

    Check your contract! I think there was a clause for steam cleaning when vacating in mine.

  • +60 votes

    $100 is cheap, thought this thread would be something in the $1000's. And to be fair, just because you don't smell it doesnt mean other people can't, you are used to the smell being that you live in the house. My sister has 2 cats and there is a 'smell' (not to say stinky, but definitely pet-like) in the house. Did you even pay a pet bond when you moved in?

    • -22 votes

      Pet bond is no legal in Victoria.

      • +2 votes

        It's not a pet bond. It's a steam cleaning bill.

    • +26 votes

      Yep, I think it's reasonable to have the carpets steam cleaned after having pets, especially for just $100. There will be a smell but more importantly a tradie for the renos or a potential tenant may have had an alergic reaction and asked if there'd been cats as it's a common allergy.

  • +95 votes

    Cat's do smell. My friends all own cats, keep their houses clean and I can still smell "cat". You're just so used to it that you can't smell it anymore.

    • +5 votes

      Olfactory fatigue, I worked in a piggery for a few weeks as a teen, the first day I could hardly breathe, after a week you dont notice it.

    • +8 votes

      This. Especially when people have like 3+ cats or dogs.

      It's $100. come on…..the landlord is probably doing it himself, a proper company would cost $250+

  • +17 votes

    Time, effort, stress… Not worth it over $100. Just pay it and move on.

    • +3 votes

      This

  • +13 votes

    Steam clean is pretty much standard thing to do when you move out and it will cost about $100. Just pay for it.

  • +36 votes

    Cats do not smell

    People that have pets can't smell them. People that don't have pets can.

  • +27 votes

    Cats do not smell (even if you don't like cats!).

    I would disagree with this one. While I like both cats and dogs, the houses where they live in for long-term do have a specific smell to it.
    It doesn't smell bad - it is just a specific smell. Some might hate it, some don't care (like me) but it is undeniable the smell is there.

  • +6 votes

    I'd would only pay $100 if it was a final payment (ie they won't keep asking you for more).

    As a cat owner you do become immune to cat wee smell…

      • +12 votes

        Landlord may have been trying to be tactful in blaming the cat.

        After seven years, a steam clean doesn't seem unreasonable.

  • +13 votes

    Carpet should be cleaned at least once every 12 months - more frequently if you have pets. Has it been cleaned at all in the 7.5 years you have been there? Carpet holds a lot of dirt and debris that cannot be removed just by dry vacuuming, it needs a thorough, regular clean or it will suffer from premature wear and tear. Regardless of that - it needs to be cleaned to remove the germs and bacteria which grow deep within the pile. Would you expect to have clean carpet when you move into a property? End of lease carpet cleaning is a standard requirement - even if the carpet does not appear to be dirty - there will be a lot of dirt and germs that you cannot see and it is what is expected when you move out regardless of contracts and law - it is good manners to leave the place as least as clean as it was for you when you moved in. $100 is very cheap for carpet cleaning.

  • +33 votes

    It seems no matter what people say, you shoot it down even with logic presented because it's not what your believe is correct. So go to VCAT and waste your time. This is a very standard clause on rental agreements just to bring the place to its original state.

    • -34 votes

      Something standard in contract does not make it legal under victoria law and most people don't know that.

      Most likely I would like someone with knowledge of consumer law, not just "i think it is reasonable" does not make logic.

      The place is by no means is dirty. The landlord wants to renovate and charge me for cleaning.

      Because today is 24/12 every place is close so I can't get advice, hence I posted here.

      • +8 votes

        Well as you said he is renovating the kitchen and bathroom, so you seem to be making an assumption that the landlord will be replacing the carpet or workmen will dirty it. That is not really for you to dictate that since that may happen so you reckon you dont have to clean it. This is not about legality anymore as you are making an assumption of what will happen to the property and not how the property was before you moved in.

      • +13 votes

        You agreed to the contract when you signed for it, if you had a problem with it then why didn't you raise to get it removed before you signed it? Imagine if you signed for a 1 year lease and 3 months in, the landlord kicked you out because 'oh well, contracts don't mean much' you would be raising a stink.

        $100 is cheap at the end of the day, I paid $1100 to have my house fully cleaned before renting it out and I fully expect the tenant to leave the house with the same standards of cleaning as when they moved in. You have a cat, there is no way that the house is 'as you moved in', so don't be scummy and just pay it. Technically he could have also submitted a VCAT to not have the pet in the house but he didn't - poor move in his hindsight. Tenants like you are why landlords are wary about renting to people with pets.

        Just realised you have been there for 7.5 years, pet or no pet, if you didn't get the carpets professionally cleaned, I would have asked for one anyway. Highly doubt you'd win if you filed a VCAT and then the owner can charge you for a real proper deep cleaning.

      • +2 votes

        Not to try and be rude, but there's multiple1234 people here with knowledge of Victorian tenancy law that have told you it's a legal clause. If you think differently, have a look through the VIC Residential Tenancies Act. Remember, the act doesn't have to state that it's legal, it's only unenforceable if the act specifically disallows it. Let us know if you find anything

      • +1 vote

        I assume even though you disabled your account you can read this. But I think it's cute you don't like what others tell you so you decided to get your account disabled.

    • +2 votes

      Agree. It comes across as OP looking to have his point of view validated and is not genuinely asking for advice.

  • +14 votes

    Cats do have a strong cat smell, though not immediately offensive. They secrete fluids from their anal glands to mark their territory. Unless you're wiping its ass with a washcloth, you've probably not noticed the small but gradual build-up of shit and pheremone secretion over the past seven years when your cats sit on the floor and bed.

    Pay the $100 and be a decent human being. You're lucky the owner is not chasing you for a complete carpet rip-up and replacement.

    • +10 votes

      If the owner was wanting OP to pay for the carpet rip up and replacement we'd have good case to argue. But $100 steam clean? Just pay it up.

  • +8 votes

    You had to steam clean anyway. Pay up. I am moving away and steam cleaning the carpets even though these are new carpets. Cats are not clean and they will have doors like any other pet. Your time is more precious than arguing on this. Imagine going all the way to vcat on this and ending up having to clean anyway.

    •  

      Hmm…doors???

      • +1 vote

        Odors😅

  • +2 votes

    I'd just do whatever the landlord says and move on.

    The reason why I normally go with the people that the real estate agents recommend when I move out of the place I rented is because if I do that, they can't complain that I've not done cleaning to their standard.

  • +2 votes

    I think most pet friendly rental leases have a clause for fumigation for fleas after you leave.

    So one way or the other its gonna cost you.

  • +6 votes

    You're going to go to VCAT over $100bux? Lol

    It's common courtesy if you are renting and have pets you stem clean the carpets even "if" they haven't pissed or shat on it. It doesn't take much effort to hire a stem cleaner at bunnings which cost 50bux and a few hours of your time.

  • +6 votes

    Carpets that aren't regularly wet n dry cleaned are dirty. Carpets that house pets that aren't regularly cleaned are filthy.

    Pay the $100 (which is cheap) and get it properly cleaned.

  • +25 votes

    Found the Karen

    • +18 votes

      I feel like I can copy paste one of OP's comments from another thread, as its applicable to OP's own thread LOL

      OP comes across as selfish and entitled.
      OP seems to think his rights are above society.

      https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/584048?page=5#comment-9685...

      • -6 votes

        dude, I am not terrible, seriously. I hardly complained in 7.5 years. However landlord said I didn't have to clean much. Renos came in the minute I was out, and it feels like he wants me to clean the mess left by renos.

  • +14 votes

    Ozbargain community has spoken. You didn’t get the answer you wanted, but that doesn’t mean they’re not right

    • -3 votes

      Fair enough!

  • +7 votes

    You said you bought your place, and yet being cheap about mere 100 bucks.

    And spare me "it's about principle" crap because if it is about principle, it is your duty to return the place to the state when you first got it. Granted it has been so long, the least you could do is clean the freaking carpet. The landlord renovating the place has nothing to do with you having to clean it or not.

    • -5 votes

      $100 that I can use on the next bargain :)

      It is not really about any of that, is about the landlord saying I didn't have to clean much because of the renos and then changing his mind after renos were in. Thats all!

      • +3 votes

        'I didn't have to clean much', did you get that in writing! Now if you don't have the carpets professionally cleaned, and when landlord has finished reno and just vacuums carpet, next tenant moves in and has a severe allergy to cats, wouldn't be good for the new tenants, but hey, they didn't know the last tenant had cats and couldn't be bothered to spend a massive $100 for carpet cleaning? And this has nothing to do with the fact that the landlord has been receiving your rent for the last 7.5 years either. On that note, you have had somewhere to live in that time also, with your cats.

        •  

          Cats are dirty feral animals

  •  

    I also live on rent. My agency/ landlord included the rental agreement to steam clean the carpet.

  • +6 votes

    "Cats do not smell (even if you don't like cats!)."

    Yes they do, as others mentioned you are just used to the smell so you don't notice. Perfectly legal and reasonable to require a steam clean, doubly so if you had a cat. What the landlord does afterwards is not your concern so irrelevant to mention Reno's unless he has explicitly told you he is ripping up carpet.

  • +6 votes

    FFS! You lived there 7.5 YEARS. It’s a standard term in lease agreements this days and honestly it should be as carpets get filthy and a vacuum is not enough from a hygiene perspective. Pay the $100 and steam clean the carpets. The owner sounds more than reasonable (didn’t make you clean the bathrooms) and yet you’re trying to be so difficult over a genuine request.

  • +3 votes

    100$?

    Every rental i've had i've had carpets professionally cleaned on vacate. Thought it was standard in lease?

    Usually pay ~170.

    Just let them know your not happy and think its a pretty shitty move considering you've been there 7.5 years.

    You could go vcat, but its not worth the time for $100. Use it as posturing if you think it will work.

    To lose 100 out of bond after 7.5 years is good going tbh, especially if you havent properly cleaned the place.

    For referance I've spent around 400 bucks on cleaners 170 on carpets and 100 on flea spray on each of the 5 last rentals I've stayed at.

    • -3 votes

      Hi
      The previous place was steamed cleaned.

      Landlord said I didn't have to clean much because of the renos. The renos were in the moment I was out, a few days later he comes and says it is a $100 to steam clean the place, which seems he decided after the renovators were in. That is why I got annoyed.

      Cats were there for 1 year only, not 7.5 years.

      Otherwise I kept the place in excellent conditions.

      •  

        So if the landlord had asked you to pay for the steam clean upfront without mentioning the reno, would you still decline?

        It looks like you are upset because he changed his mind. Logically speaking it would make no difference whether he had asked you upfront or after a few days with the renos if the cost was the same and it was within his right to request so as per the contract. As others have mentioned, this is pretty standard and reasonable.

        Accept it, and shift your focus to other more inportant things.

      • +1 vote

        If thats the case I would say that he cannot enforce it. How can it be determined that the renos werent the cause of the dirty carpet.

      • +1 vote

        I reckon you got a great 'bargain', only $100 to have carpet steam cleaned, sounds cheap to me.

  • +10 votes

    $100 is cheap. You could even say it's a bargain. perhaps even call it an…ozbargain

    • -8 votes

      best one! up vote for that!

      • +1 vote

        And down vote for this 😂

  •  

    $100 just move on mate there's people out there homeless, lost jobs, lost family members, seriously please find something else to occupy your time.

    Happy Christmas and New year

  • +1 vote

    " times before and never said a word. Obviously he was always against the cats, but new legislation in Victoria said I could keep pets."

    troll post, surely….

  • -1 vote

    I love kitty

  • +3 votes

    Even if the landlord didn't ask, I would steam clean the carpets out of courtesy. $100 is a very reasonable price. I know this is a bargain website but there's a difference between cheap and inconsiderate.

  •  

    I honestly think you should just cut your losses (if you can call it that) $100 is a bargain for carpet steam cleaning.. You wouldn't get out of it any cheaper if you tried.

  •  

    Pay up.

  •  

    I’d move on. I think I know what you mean about the Renos though. Best have things in writing next time.

  • +1 vote

    First, cats do leave a smell, sorry. Secondly, you should have steam cleaned it for hygiene. Other people have to go in and out of the place to renovate it.

    I thought steam cleaning was always required by contract? $100 is cheap anyway

  •  

    If the landlord has inspected the place at the time you vacated and specificlly told you not to worry about the carpets, then don't.
    However it doesn't quite sound like this is what happened.

    If you've had cats, then you need to have the carpets cleaned.
    Those of you saying that the carpets must be stream cleaned even if no animals were present 'because it says so on the lease' are wrong.